My day starts at 4:30 AM. I wake up in Bellingham, WA, then drive to 8 Rinks in Burnaby BC, Canada. We skate from 6:15 Am until 10:30 AM or later. We get a 15 min break during the ice cut. Training is as intense as I have ever had it, but it’s totally worth it.
One thing I realized pretty quickly when I came here is that there are no causal skaters here. No one stands around talking to friends or messing with their cell phone. Everyone trains. Hard.
Furthermore, I was a small fish again. Which is always a good thing. Last season I skated with Ashley Bain and we were the best team at our rink, or rather, the only team at our rink. We were the only skaters who trained there in the morning. So that’s hard. When you are the best at your rink, or worse, the only ones at your rink everything you do is the standard. And we had to travel to another rink to take an hour lesson with our coach Arkadiy Sergeev. But when you are at a training facility, and your coaches watch over you like hawks, you will work significantly harder than you could push yourself.
All serious skaters train hard, yet some are successful while others no so much. One thing that plays an outsized role in the success of a skater or team is talent and interest of the coach. It’s not enough to be taught by some amazing coach. Because even if your coach is an Olympic champion, if they don’t devote enough attention to a skater, that skater won’t progress as much as they could. The opposite is also true. At some level, any lack of ability on the coach’s part will affect the skaters’ progress.
With Megan and Aaron, Niki and I have coaches that are brilliant and interested, so we are incredibly lucky. Another thing that works in my favor is the exchange rate. Training at a training center (vs taking a few lessons at a nearby rink) is incredibly expensive. The other training centers I have visited (Marina Zoueva’s camp in Canton, MI, Anjelika Krylova’s camp when she was at Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, MI) I could not afford to train properly at.
But here with the exchange rate being in my favor, and the need for more male dance coaches in the Bellingham – Everett area means I can survive. And survive is the operative word here. But I have found that barely getting by but training for real is infinitely better that being at home and comfortable.
When we get done training, I head back to the US and work. Then I do several hours of off ice and go to bed. I am usually in bed by 8-830 AM. I lose about 2-5 hours each day on driving. When I teach in Everett, WA I drive about 5 hours that day. And while I could stay in Canada near the rink, I don’t as I would still have to travel to the US to teach.
One thing that I found is that it’s hard to appreciate what you have until it’s gone. So I have been working on appreciating all that I have wherever I find myself. I feel that my skating is getting back on track. It remains to be seen how things will turn out in the long run, but I am hoping things here last.
I have been training in Canada since May 14th, and in that time Niki and I have competed at 3 competitions: International Lake Placid in Lake Placid, NY, BC SummerSkate, in Burnaby, BC Canada, and Challenge Cup in Philadelphia, PA. We don’t get another competition until US Nationals in Detroit, MI, so another four months until then.
Last Nationals, when I was skating with Ashley, we were together for four months and Nationals was our first competition. As I expected, we took last, but we skated well all things considered. Unfortunately, Ashley decided to move on and look for another partner, so I was back to square one. But what was a setback, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I ended up with Niki and Megan and Aaron.
However, I have come to realize not to assume that things will go on indefinitely. So I try to maximize every moment and get the most out of every opportunity I am given. Furthermore, I am willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order to keep moving forward.
Before coming here, I had a girlfriend. But when I realized that I have to choose, I made the choice I knew I would. I ended it in order to be able to come here. And I didn’t leave just her, but my uncle, our dog Wesley, my clients, all my students, and the life I had rebuilt for myself. And in order to have more money for training, I did what I did when I trained with Ashley at Aspen Ice Arena, in Randolph, NJ, which is live out of my car (until I got established). And I would make that choice again. I have distilled myself to nothing more than the will to skate. The will to keep moving forward. The will to progress.